So apparently today is Blue Monday. It’s officially the ‘most depressing day of the year’. I’m not quite sure how they work that out, but it’s something to do with the lousy weather, our post-Christmas credit card bills and the fact that most of us have abandoned our New Year’s resolutions.
Now I can’t do much about the weather. Or your bank balance. But if you’re trying to change your drinking this year and things haven’t gone to plan, then I have something for you because it’s never too late to get things back on track. All you need is a giant dose of motivation from people who have been there and done that.
Last week I asked my sober readers to let me know about some of the amazing and surprising things that have happened to them since they stopped drinking. The results? An incredibly honest, inspiring and uplifting read.
I hope you enjoy reading their responses as much as I did. And many thanks to everyone who contributed.
“Here’s what would’ve never happened to me if I hadn’t quit drinking, which I did August 1, 2015. I would have never gotten serious about my writing, because I would have been too busy recovering from hangovers, feeling tired, feeling bad about myself, and feeling like I was ready for a drink and then rationalizing having one at lunch, then one at 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, and so on. Now I’ve taken a travel writing class, hired a writing coach, written ten travel blog posts, and am enrolled in a ten-week nonfiction writers bootcamp – plus I’m taking Spanish lessons. I’d also like to say that quitting drinking is the best possible thing I could have done for my marriage (just married in June after 4 yrs together). My husband is entirely supportive of my decision to quit alcohol and says he likes the new me! These are someone else’s words, but they fit me too: Sobriety has given me everything that alcohol promised!”
“I’ve been sober for 18 months and since then have found my dream job; teaching crafts to adults recovering from mental health issues. Had I still been drinking I’d never have had the energy for the interview, never mind turning up for work on time, Monday to Friday, feeling well and able to support people and think of crafts to make. It’s the best job in the world and totally impossible had I not quit binge drinking.”
“The best thing for me personally was the day my son said, ‘Mummy, you don’t look half asleep anymore. And you remember everything I say now.’ Those words are what keeps me on track, six months sober in February.”
“I stopped drinking just over a year ago. With no morning hangovers, I could workout. When I wanted a drink, I did pushups (one pushup, 15 pushups, 5 pushups… whatever I could do to not go to the pantry). Then I started boxing and now I help train people by working at a boxing club. My daughters say I’m less cranky, have fewer headaches and smile more.”
“I stopped drinking alcohol on May 28th 2014. Since then I’ve lost nearly 5 stone in weight and I am now a Personal Trainer. My life has changed beyond all recognition and I have never looked back.”
“I’ve been sober for almost 2 years. Since I stopped drinking I’ve been able to leave a violent relationship and get a new job. I now work for a drug and alcohol organisation so I can help others. I was a peer mentor first and I’m now a full time key worker.”
“Something amazing that happened since I stopped drinking is I had the best New Year ever! I chose to stay in with family and was fast asleep before 12. I didn’t feel I missed out at all. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling happy, confident and positive. Normally I’d be full of self loathing and memory loss and it was amazing to realise I actually enjoyed Christmas and New Year more sans alcohol.”
“My hubby and I have both started exercising after work. Only a 20 minute walk/jog of just over a mile but we are doing it. Before we would have come in and had a glass of wine, game over. Now we are getting outside. We are full of enthusiasm, energy and actually feel quite smug!”
“Things that make life better? No more covering up, delusions or lies to myself or those I love. Ever. Freedom from the constant worry of when/if/how much to drink and its availability. Slowly, slowly, becoming comfortable as me. Hitting my target weight and staying there – I couldn’t have done it with significant calorie expenditure on alcohol.”
Felicity, Northern Ireland
“The best thing so far is being a better mum and having more patience and clarity. I have been able to help with all the little (but big to them) problems in their lives, instead of just falling asleep on the sofa every evening and feeling rubbish the next morning. This has made our relationships so much better.”
“Having a genuine sober laugh has been a revelation. In fact [at a recent party] my aunt thought I was drunk because I was having so much fun! I have also been able to maintain a positive mind set, which is new to me. I have no hangovers, no guilt, no sinus, nausea or IBS issues that I am usually plagued with when drinking. I am alert and sleeping really well.”
Del, County Antrim